The Paris terrorist attacks and the downing of a Russian civilian airliner over Egypt have shaken the world. The attacks, both coming within the space of a month, also affected the international agenda, providing more opportunities for Russia and the West finally to build a broad anti-terrorist coalition. While those two tragic events dominated headlines, there were other important Russian foreign policy developments in November, including new developments on the Ukrainian crisis.
Below, we’ve ranked the Top 10 Russian foreign policy moves in November.
#10: Fifth World Congress of Russian Compatriots in Moscow
On Nov. 5-6, Moscow hosted the Fifth World Congress of Russian Compatriots. The Russian Diaspora is one of the four largest in the world, numbering about 30 million people of various nationalities and faiths. The forum was attended by delegates from 97 countries.
In his speech at the congress, Russian President Vladimir Putin set the task of this organization as the protection of compatriots from discrimination and ensuring their legitimate rights. Russia is concerned that a number of countries, for political reasons, are destroying education in the Russian language, and complicating the work of Russian cultural centers, theaters, and libraries. In addition to supporting compatriots abroad, plans call for the development a program to assist voluntary resettlement of compatriots in Russia.
#9: Russia cuts off gas supplies to Ukraine
On Nov. 25, Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, pending the receipt of new payments. In response, Ukrainian consumers began removing natural gas from underground storage facilities of the country, which are already at insufficient levels. One cannot exclude the development of negative events, in which energy supply to the EU this winter will once again be threatened, due to unauthorized siphoning of gas transiting through Ukraine.
The talks recently held in Vienna demonstrated Russia’s unwillingness to grant to Ukraine special prices and conditions that are different from those that apply to European countries. This position is justified, in particular, by the fact that starting on Jan. 1, 2016, the economic part of the EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine comes into force.
#8: Ukraine rejects Russia’s proposal to restructure its debt
Ukraine rejected Moscow’s proposal for a phased repayment over three years of its $3 billion debt to Russia. Failure to pay its debt to Russia will make it impossible for Ukraine to obtain further financing from the IMF, although there has been undertaken an accelerated procedure to develop mechanisms to preserve the lending program to Kiev, despite a possible default, and bypassing the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) own rules.
In the meantime, thanks to foreign borrowings, Ukraine has enough reserves to repay its debt to Russia. Since the beginning of the year, Ukraine has received $9.7 billion in loans, and by the end of the year, the country expects to receive an additional $4 billion.
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In addition to Russian military airstrikes, Syrian President Assad’s visit to Moscow and the continuing Normandy talks over Ukraine dominated the Russian foreign policy agenda in October. October marked the first month of the Russian airstrikes in Syria against terrorist targets and also saw positive developments in the diplomatic process around Ukraine and Syria. Given these two ongoing international issues, some other important foreign policy events have been overshadowed.
The President promised to redirect Russian energy streams to countries where “economy is not confused with politics”. He was referring to the Summit host Turkey in the first place with its increasing need for energy resources. Despite the differences between Turkey and Russia on the Syrian issue, the two states are deepening their cooperation in the energy field making their relations genuinely strategic.